This past year CEF has been lucky enough to welcome three new local foundations – Canowindra, Grenfell and Walgett.
Each community faces challenges unique to their locations and demographics, but one common thread they all have is their excitement for the future and a passion for their grant recipients – current and prospective.
One highlight for the Country Education Foundation of Walgett so far has been backing of the Thyne Reid Foundation. After the foundation’s trustee, George Reid, visited the district he saw the need for CEF to be involved in the area, and championed the establishment of the Walgett foundation.
“He believes in Walgett after going up there. He went up to Walgett for the weekend and had a conversation with a young teacher in Rowena. She highlighted to him the plight of young local people and he absolutely realised the need for a CEF at Walgett,” Prue Sinclair, CEF Walgett founding member, said.
“He approached head office to see how he could help. Having that conversation with that young teacher, George realised the struggles that Walgett kids go through.”
The Thyne Reid Foundation donated $46,000 to Walgett CEF to help the youth in that area achieve their dreams and goals.
According to Prue, this huge injection of belief is being transferred to the country kids they are helping.
“We sponsored nine kids last year. The gratitude was just amazing! It makes it really worth it. The appreciation is not just for the money, but for the backing and for having the faith in them,” Prue said.
CEF Grenfell is also well on their way to making a lasting impact within their community, even in their first round of grant giving.
CEF Grenfell chair, Peter Spedding, said the committee is most proud that they have been able to help the very kids the foundation was set up to support, from the very beginning.
“We gave out about $13,500 last year, we helped 13 kids get going. One of the best things was that quite a few of these students we helped were the first member in their family to go to university,” Peter said.
“We went from one girl doing a tech course and working at a childcare centre, to another guy working at a local engineering firm. We helped him with some of his course and a few tools.”
“The other one that we were really impressed by was a young fellow raised by a single mother, last year’s school captain. He’s doing engineering in Bathurst. He rolled up on his first day with his iPad from school and the lecturer said to him ‘look this won’t cut it, you have to get a proper computer’. He couldn’t get one by himself, so he applied to us, and we granted him $2000 to help. He appreciated the help we gave him.”
The most recent new committee is Country Education Foundation of Canowindra. They have made a strategic decision to delay public activity until midway through 2018 to maximize their fundraising capacity. The committee has big plans for their inaugural fundraising event, and they’re investing a year’s worth of time to make it a lasting success and attraction in the town, according to founding member Peter Stacey.
“We’ve decided to take a different tack and we’re just doing one event a year. We’re going to do it big, and we’re going to do it well. Our first event will be in October 2018. It’s basically going to be a short film festival called Cano Mocs and Docs 2804. Canowindra mockumentaries and documentaries,” Peter said excitedly.
“Everyone comments that the cause is great, it makes perfect sense. But then our question as a committee was how do we tie it in so people don’t get tired of donating? That’s always the hard thing. So we branched into a film festival.”
“We’re thinking of fossils as the signature theme because Canowindra has the Age of Fishes Museum and it fits nicely. Fossils could be old people or it could be science related.”
While there have been many positives to the new foundations’ establishment in their respective communities, they all acknowledge there are challenges associated with raising funds and, as busy people, finding enough volunteer hours to dedicate to the cause. The CEF national office provides important and ongoing support to all local foundations to ensure they are able to do what they are passionate about – helping the local youth, and helping their communities.
Local foundations Walgett and Grenfell said they are working hard to get their name out there and tell people what they are trying to do, but have hit a few potholes along the way. But both acknowledged it will take time for the community to accept and embrace the efforts and work for the next generation in those towns and districts.
Grenfell CEF’s chairman says he knows things take time in small towns, and is trying to be patient.
“It’s a bit difficult to spread the word. We did get a front page in the local newspaper when we did presentations to some of the kids, but we still get a lot of questions about what we do. But that’s what happens no matter what committee or organisation you’re in,” Peter Spedding said.
“In a small community like Grenfell there are lots of worthy causes. We really must join the queue.”
These three new committees epitomise the unique value of CEF – local people committed to creating better opportunities for the next generation and seeing young locals flourish. The CEFs in Walgett, Grenfell and Canowindra represent the heart and soul of CEF and our volunteers in all our hardworking local foundations.